GENEVA – The alley in back of Scott and Kelly Piagnarelli’s house on Geneva’s east side has become the default skateboard park for two 9-year-old girls and two 6-year-old girls.
In an era that sees youngsters gravitating to electronics, video gaming and smartphones in lieu of outdoor play, these four young girls are opting for live action. Through the summer, and nearly every day after school until it snows, the four meet up, balance on their skateboards and roll back and forth – flanked only by a field and garages – as they work on their skills.
Their group’s name, “Skater Girls,” is embellished on a wooden sign the girls designed.
Their parents admit it is a little unusual for girls so young to be so passionate about skateboarding. But the youngsters – Violet Nelson, 9, Finley Nelson, 6, Siena Piagnarelli, 9, and Miya Piagnarelli, 6 – don’t care one bit.
“It’s fun,” Violet said, of skateboarding.
“It makes me happy,” Siena said.
On a recent clear, cool October afternoon, Kelly Piagnarelli and Amanda Nelson watched as their girls skateboarded in the alley behind the Piagnarellis’ house.
Finley’s twin brother, Koastyn, usually rides his bike while the girls roll.
Skateboarding all started with Violet, a fourth-grader at Harrison Street School, who has been skateboarding since she was 7, her dad, Kristofer Nelson said.
“She navigated inside the house on a teeny-tiny cheap board, going between the furniture,” Kristofer Nelson said. “My wife did not like it because it marks up the floor, but that is how she learned. Out in the alley, on rougher terrain and inclines, she has to work harder.”
Kristofer Nelson also skateboarded pretty much his whole life.
“I still do, but not every day,” he said.
A Geneva native, graduating with the Class of 1998, he and Scott Piagnarelli – also of Geneva, Class of 2000 – ended up as neighbors by happenstance.
“We were friends in high school and then once we moved back – it’s a small world,” Scott Piagnarelli said.
Siena began skateboarding because Violet was into it. And the younger sisters followed suit.
“They became friends when we moved here two years ago and when we went over to her house, Kris was making a skateboard for Violet and … she thought that was the coolest thing ever,” Scott Piagnarelli said. “She said, ‘I want a skateboard.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ But she was so excited about it.”
Since Violet already had a skateboard, Siena practiced on that one until she got her own: Kristofer Nelson made her a skateboard for her eighth birthday in July last year.
Siena went down the street on it – fell and broke her right arm – all during her birthday party, her father said.
“She was, ‘How cool am I! Look at me!’ and she went too fast. She went down one block away, turned and fell into the sidewalk, landed right on her elbow,” Scott Piagnarelli said.
“We had to take her to the ER,” he said. “I thought it would scare her off, but she jumped right back into it. She loves it.”
Siena has a pin in her right elbow holding things together and during her recovery, “she got really good at writing with her left hand,” her dad said.
“I was really impressed,” Scott Piagnarelli said. “She was back on that skateboard six months later.”
Siena got a new board for her ninth birthday, a gift from one of her aunts.
Scott Piagnarelli said he never skateboarded as a kid.
“I am totally uncoordinated,” Scott Piagnarelli said.
After the moms decided the kids should pack it up for the night, Koastyn toted his bike into the backyard, while the girls carried their boards and their “Skater Girl’s” sign inside.
They were already planning to skateboard in the Nelsons’ basement through the winter.